I sort of stumbled into this job, being an itinerant teacher of deaf and hard of hearing students. Before, I had no intention of becoming an itinerant teacher. I thought I would just be a classroom teacher, either at a school for the deaf, in a self-contained classroom, or general education. When I applied to the job, I did not know that it was for an itinerant teaching position.
Before becoming involved with education, I was an 'artist' working part-time in an art store. I dabbled in film making and ceramics, while I was a painter hardly selling paintings (due to lack of motivation). I taught art to elementary aged children at various schools from time to time.
Then one day I met this student at my very first job of teaching a class.
A tiny girl, eight years old at the time, came up to me smiling, "You have hearing aids too!"
"What?" I mumbled, as I tried to figure out how to control the chaotic students in the classroom.
"In your ear. Hearing aid!" she squealed excitedly, pointing to my ear.
"Oh, yes. I do. And you do too," I acknowledged, still not getting it.
She kept looking at me smiling and she started asking me questions about my hearing aid.
Finally, when I was able to get the class to calm down, I sat down with her and tried to answer all of her questions. Sadly, I did not really know how to answer her questions. I did not fully understand what my hearing loss was or what it meant. But, I was so taken back by how excited this girl was. Before, she was pretty quiet and kept to herself. Now, she was chatting it up with me.
It made me feel good. I liked that we could relate to each other and that I shared something interesting and personal with this little girl, unlike the other students I worked with. Most of all, I really liked how she reacted to this. She was so happy and excited.
During the brief time I taught in her classroom, we talked about our hearing aids, I taught her how to clean and care for her hearing aid, and we discussed things we could hear or not hear. It was fun.
So, I told myself that maybe I'll consider working with deaf children. I took sign language classes and then volunteered in various classrooms of deaf and hard of hearing students, while still working at the art store. Visiting schools and classes opened my eyes. Some classes were excellent and some were depressing. I wanted to work with deaf and hard of hearing students even more.
Taking American Sign Language (ASL) classes made me more interested in deaf and hard of hearing issues. I was fascinated by the concept of Deaf culture and deaf identity. I went to several deaf events and meet ups, trying to learn ASL. At first, I entered the interpreting program, but quickly found that it was not for me. Then, I left my art store job and worked in a mental health counseling center servicing deaf and hard of hearing individuals. It was a very interesting job. I will have to write about this job later. I continued taking ASL classes for three years, until I felt I was comfortable enough to use it on my own. I met many wonderful people and just absolutely loved it.
I knew what it was that I wanted to do.
So, I went to graduate school in New York and entered the Deaf Education program there. I studied for two and a half years and graduated with masters degrees in deaf education and early childhood education.
I came back to my hometown and was dismayed at how hard it was to get a teaching job, any teaching job. The ones who were honest with me, said that I did not have enough experience (then give it to me!) or that I was overqualified.
Boy, that was a tough job! I loved the little guys though.
After six long months, I left to take a part-time job teaching in a deaf/hoh preschool classroom within a public school. I loved it and was so happy to be doing something I thoroughly enjoyed.
Then I landed two jobs. A part-time job as a parent adviser for families with deaf and hard of hearing children, and a full-time job as an itinerant teacher, my current job.
So, here I am. So far so good. I love my job!